Time recently featured the monkey and his apparent closeness in genetic structure to us humans. There are 3 billion base pairs in the human genome and apparently, only 1.23 0iffer in sequence between us and the chimp. Their conclusion we and the chimp must have evolved from a common ancestor.
However its not that simple. The human genome project is revealing that humans have only around 20,000 genes, about 80,000 less than they predicted, which means that what we are, and how we differ from monkeys cannot be measured by simply looking at DNA sequences. They’ve had to take another look at material they arrogantly labeled “junk” DNA a couple of years ago and in doing so have discovered that this “junk”, supposedly left over from the random process of mutation and natural selection, is just as important in determining our makeup as the ‘non- junk’ DNA. Its function is crucial in determining how the observable DNA operates, so variations in this material, now labeled ‘dark matter’ is incredibly important and they have barely scratched the surface here. So the human genome project is far from finished. In any case 1.23may seem small but it’s still nearly 37 million variations.
The most important thing over looked is the philosophical interpretation of the data. Does it indicate that we and the monkeys have evolved from a common ancestor or are we both the the product of a common creator?
We humans love doing variations on a theme in our creative works, why not God?
If there is a God and he created a world for his image bearers to enjoy, then he might just have known, given that he created our brain, that we would get a kick out of monkeys because of their closeness in many ways to ourselves. We delight in caricatures of people, perhaps the monkey is God’s ultimate caricature of the human race. Was it only an accident that we see in the antics of a monkey, the strange behaviour of our children or even some of our older friends and relatives?
Queen Victoria on seeing an orangutan in the London Zoo declared the beast “frightfully and painfully and disagreeably human”. Might God not have sniggered a little as she said it?
If God could create things of beauty and anticipate our joy in seeing them, then why, given the fact that he created us with a sense of humour, might he not have also created things to make us laugh?
If the evidence for an evolutionary connection between us and the apes seems stronger than a connection brought about by design, it’s not that the arguments are better, it’s just that they are the only ones considered.
In any case we are still the ones studying the genome of the monkey, the monkeys have a way to go before they begin to study the genome of a human. We don’t even have that promised work of Shakespeare from their proverbial typewriters yet! This is not a trivial point because not only does it speak about superior intelligence but also a driving force within us to create a meta narrative to explain who we are, why we are here, and where we are heading.
The real difference between us and the apes is not physical, but spiritual; we were created in the image of God and they weren’t. Not until God writes them a Bible and comes to earth in the form of an ape to pay for their moral failings should we take their outward appearances too seriously.